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Electrolyte Water: Is It Better Than Regular Water?

Staying adequately hydrated by drinking plenty of water is essential for your entire body. Under certain conditions, drinking water alone isn’t enough to replenish your body’s fluids, and electrolyte water can make a big difference. Here’s what you should know about electrolyte water versus regular water.

Key takeaways:

This article will outline the key differences between electrolyte and regular water. We’ll also discuss choosing the right electrolyte water for your needs (or how to make your own if you’d prefer).

What is electrolyte water?

Electrolyte water is a beverage that contains dissolved minerals called electrolytes.

Electrolytes are electrically charged, which is important for various bodily functions like keeping your heart beating, muscle function, and nerve signaling properly. Electrolytes also play different roles, like balancing water levels and maintaining a regular pH balance. Sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphate, magnesium, chloride, and bicarbonate are some of the most common electrolytes in electrolyte water.

You can get electrolytes from the foods that you eat, as well as some mineral waters. However, your body loses water and electrolytes through sweat. If your electrolyte levels drop too low, it can become life-threatening.

Staying hydrated is essential for regulating body temperature and blood pressure. Conversely, you can have too many electrolytes compared to your body water, which can present health issues.

What are electrolyte water benefits?

Is electrolyte water good for you? It definitely can be, especially if you’re at an increased risk of dehydration.

Hydration

Electrolyte water is highly effective for rehydration, since electrolyte minerals control and maintain how your body balances fluids. Electrolyte water is a good option for athletes or for those who perform vigorous physical activities for work. Electrolyte water may also be a better option if you are sick or in extreme heat, since it can replace your fluids faster than regular water alone.

Athletic performance

Some electrolyte waters also include carbohydrates in the form of sugars. Carbohydrates are an essential energy source for athletes since they are converted into glycogen, a source of fuel that is stored in muscles for later. Electrolyte drinks are sometimes called “sports drinks” because they target high-intensity athletes. High-endurance athletes may benefit from these drinks, but the average person who spends one hour in the gym should stick with regular water to avoid drinking excess sugar.

Can you drink electrolyte water during fasting?

You can drink certain kinds of electrolyte water if you are fasting, but it’s essential to look for options that don't contain carbohydrates or other additives that can break your fast.

Some people choose to fast to restrict their calorie intake, regulate blood sugar levels, and ultimately help with weight loss. On their own, electrolytes and water generally do not contain calories, making them suitable to consume during a fast. However, many electrolyte drinks also contain carbohydrates, which can lead to a spike in blood sugar levels and technically break your fast. Stick with unflavored, zero-calorie options since these are the best electrolyte water for fasting.

What should I look for in electrolyte water?

There are several varieties of electrolyte water on the market. If you want to add electrolyte water into your routine, here’s what you should look for.

  • Electrolytes. The electrolyte content is one of the first things to look for when shopping for electrolyte water. Sodium, potassium, and magnesium are three of the most essential electrolytes your body needs.
  • Choose natural ingredients when possible. Look for natural sweeteners like stevia, or choose unflavored electrolyte water if you prefer natural ingredients.
  • Avoid excess added sugars. Many electrolyte drinks contain excessive amounts of sugar that are unnecessary for hydration. Look for options with fewer added sugars. You can also look for “low-calorie” or “zero-calorie” options to ensure you aren’t consuming excess carbohydrates through your water.

Electrolyte water vs regular water

Electrolyte-infused waters can rehydrate you faster than regular water, since they replace the electrolytes and the water you may lose during exercise.

However, many electrolyte waters contain more added sugar than you probably need. Unless you are an athlete, doing high-intensity exercises for more than one hour, or are sick, you likely don’t need to consume electrolyte water frequently.

How to make electrolyte water?

You can also make your own electrolyte water if you can’t find any that fits your needs and dietary preferences.

You will need:

  1. 1 cup of water
  2. Half a lemon or lime
  3. A small pinch of salt

Instead of using water, you can also use coconut water, which contains a variety of electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals. Lemons or limes are a great source of potassium, while salt is essential for sodium.

To make it, mix the water, lemon/lime juice, and a small pinch of salt. You can also add your preferred sweetener to improve the taste and create your own flavored electrolyte water.

Electrolyte water is an excellent option for hydration, especially if you are prone to excessive sweating or are otherwise dehydrated. However, electrolyte water also sometimes contains added sugars that may be unnecessary for someone otherwise well-hydrated. If you do decide to use electrolyte water, make sure to choose a brand suitable for your needs and activity level, or make your own to completely control the ingredients.

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Comments

Peter Ford-Evans
prefix 1 month ago
I drink "Smart Water" that contains electrolytes in the form of calcium chloride, magnesium chloride and potassium bicarbonate. I use this on the recommendation of a cardiologist, to prevent muscle cramps in my legs and feet in bed at night. I drink a 600ml bottle per day and it works, no more night cramps. If I miss a day I sometimes get cramp, if I miss more than one day in a row the cramp returns with a vengeance!
Papagayo
prefix 1 year ago
Erica, thank you for writing this article and taking the time to talk about electrolyte water, which has become more popular nowadays amongst athletes and also general consumers. I appreciated that you explained in details specific sections on what electrolyte water is, what it contains, what to look for, how it compares to normal water, how to make your own electrolyte drinks, and even a frequently answered questions page! As someone who is in the medical field and is also an athlete, consuming water with more electrolytes is something I had started at a younger age, and sometimes I forget to look into the specifics, so I appreciate seeing detailed articles such as this that allows me to have a better idea of what I am getting myself into. I wanted to comment on your article because I felt that by having many details for readers to make their own informed decisions, you are able to cover the bioethical principle of beneficence, and because I am taking an ethics class, this is something that I like to comment on as I see it in different articles that I read. As readers take the time to look into your article and make their decisions based off of the presented information, I appreciated what you wrote because it did not feel like you were steering the audience in a specific direction, but instead, you presented enough information on multiple fronts that would allow a reader to come to their own conclusions and decide what their needs are in regards to electrolyte water. And not just that, I strongly believe that even by having different names and terminology for readers such as the different vitamins and minerals you had mentioned, you would enable a reader to do their own research into specific areas that they need more information on. In summary, I find that article very helpful as a reader, especially as a starting point in learning more about electrolytes in water, and I hope that it will be a great resource for readers who are interested in this topic.